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Ottawa Police disproportionately used force against Black and Middle Eastern residents in 2022: report

The Ottawa Police Service headquarters on Elgin Street. (Leah Larocque/CTV News Ottawa) The Ottawa Police Service headquarters on Elgin Street. (Leah Larocque/CTV News Ottawa)

Black and Middle Eastern residents of Ottawa were over-represented in police use of force incidents over the general population, according to a new data by the Ottawa Police Service.

The force released its 2022 yearly use of force data in a report that will be presented to Monday's Ottawa Police Services Board Meeting,

The report finds there was a decrease in the percentage of use of force against racialized people, but Black and Middle Eastern residents remained over-represented overall.

Black residents were represented in use of force incidents by 3.1 times their share of Ottawa’s population. Middle Eastern people were also represented at 1.7 times their share of the population, while Indigenous people were not over-represented in 2022.

Black residents were involved in 25 per cent of use of force incidents that year, despite only representing eight per cent of the Ottawa population. Middle Eastern people were involved in 10 per cent of force incidents, while making up six per cent of the population.

White people were involved in 58 per cent of incidents and make up 68 per cent of the population.

The percentage of racialized subjects decreased from 48 per cent in 2020 and 2021 to 42 per cent in 2022, the report found. Specifically, the percentage of Black people involved decreased from 28 per cent in 2020, 26 per cent in 2021, and 25 per cent in 2022.

Police were most likely to use force on Black individuals in response to a weapons-related call (23 per cent), while the most common occurrence of other racialized subjects was a suspicious person or circumstance call (20 per cent).

"The elimination of systemic racism and implicit bias is a priority for the OPS," the report said.

"In addition, the OPS has committed to improving the experiences of Black, Indigenous, racialized people and various equity-seeking groups in their encounters with OPS members and the criminal justice system more broadly. To this end, the OPS collects and reports on race and identity-based data (RIBD)."

The report found that statistics on the deployment of tasers and rates of injuries do not suggest that racialized people are more likely than White people to have them deployed on or to be injured when police use force.

OPS officers used force against 284 people in 2022 (245 incidents), which represents an average of 1.14 incidents per 1,000 dispatched calls. Of the incidents in which officers used force in 2022, one resulted in a fatal injury to the person, four incidents involved serious injuries, 42 involved minor injuries and 19 involved minor injuries to OPS officers.

In almost three quarters of the incidents, force was used in order to effect an arrest, according to the report. The majority of use of force incidents involved displaying a signal or firearm rather than applying force, police said.

The collection of racialized data is required in compliance with Ontario's Anti-Racism Act (ARA), which mandates law enforcement agencies to identify racial disparities.

A use of force report filled out by police asks officers to select which race category best represents the subject. Officers are not to ask the individual for their self-identified race.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General of Ontario has added additional reporting requirements, including officer perceptions of age and gender to the 2023 report template.

The data finds that use of force incidents are trending down overall. In 2020, OPS officers used force an average of 1.58 times per thousand dispatched calls in 2020 and 1.27 times in 2021. In 2022, there was an average of 1.14 incidents per thousand dispatched calls.

The report found the vast majority of calls for service (99.9%) were resolved with officer presence and communication. Top Stories

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